Football

Charlotte 49ers’ Green team beats White 19-3 in spring football game

The Green 49ers Damarrell Alexander drives for the first down at the 49ers’  spring football game at The Richardson Stadium at UNCC in Charlotte, Saturday, April 18, 2015.
The Green 49ers Damarrell Alexander drives for the first down at the 49ers’ spring football game at The Richardson Stadium at UNCC in Charlotte, Saturday, April 18, 2015. jkomer@charlotteobserver.com

The Green team beat the White 19-3 in the Charlotte 49ers’ spring football game at Richardson Stadium on Saturday. The game featured three field goals – including a 53-yarder by the Green’s Stephen Muscarello.

Although the winners managed just one offensive touchdown – a 6-yard run by by Damarrell Alexander – the Green team rolled up 241 yards in total offense in a game that featured a running clock and no timeouts.

Here are a few takeaways from Saturday’s game, which was played under the stadium’s new lights before a crowd of 11,469:

No closure on QB

The 49ers will head into preseason practice in August with the starting quarterback job unsettled. All three candidates played well, if not spectacularly Saturday: Matt Johnson, who alternated between each team, completed 11 of 19 passes for 142 yards and an interception; Lee McNeill was 5 of 11 for 35 yards and a touchdown; and redshirt freshman Brooks Barden was 10 of 16 for 104 yards and a pick.

“Each of us brings something different to the table,” said Johnson, the starter the past two seasons. “I don’t have a lot of patience, and Lee brings that. Brooks has a cannon (arm). We all feed off each other.”

Said coach Brad Lambert: “I feel really good about the quarterbacks.”

Defensive improvement?

Both defensive units, under new coordinator Matt Wallerstedt, played aggressively, intercepting three passes and forcing two fumbles. Linebackers DaQuavius Reid and Jordan Starnes and defensive lineman Eric Herkley each had five tackles. Ardy Holmes had an 89-yard interception return for a touchdown.

“We’re playing more aggressively and more man-to-man,” said defensive back Cortezz Nixon, who had an interception. “I thought we played well overall.”

Basic offense

The 49ers offense, so explosive the past two seasons, didn’t show much in this exhibition. But receiver Austin Duke caught three passes for 83 yards (but fumbled through the end zone at the end of a 45-yard gain), and Trent Bostick caught a 62-yard pass from Barden that was nullified by a penalty. Running back Kalif Phillips, who gained 1,441 yards last season, stayed on the sidelines most of the night and carried twice for 6 yards. Alexander (65 yards on 18 carries) and Delaware State-transfer Garrison Duncan (37 on 13) both had their moments.

Looking ahead

Next up for the 49ers is their first season in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA. Fall practice begins Aug. 6, with the season opener on Sept. 4 at Georgia State, the home opener Sept. 12 against Presbyterian and league opener Sept. 19 at Middle Tennessee.

“We’re not going to be anybody’s stepping stone in Conference USA,” said Nixon. “We’ve got more talent than in the past and we’re working our butts off in conditioning and in the weight room. We understand that other teams might have a lot more talent, but we’re ready for it.”

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